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Faceted navigation

Definitions and reference


Tokyo Art Beats

uk.shopping.com 1

uk.shopping.com 2

What is Faceted navigation?

Faceted navigation "allows the users to navigate the information space by progressively selecting desired facets of the information items." (van Welie)

Faceted navigation is extremely useful for large collections of documents. Instead of defining navigation paths beforehand (the top down approach as Yahoo does), the users can pick and choose the information part that they find important. With each pick they filter the total document set to reach a managable set or even one final result. This is a bottom-up approach to describing information.

This is done by describing documents (or any other object) as a collection of properties, or facets. Material properties of a document (language, date) can be used as facets, but also subject matter (topic classification).

Each facet group becomes a navigation item. For household appliances we may have Vacuums, Refridgerators, Toasters. If we select Toasters, a new menu is shown, containing for instance brands, prize ranges, with or without warming rack. We can select toasters cheaper than 30 dollars, and then from these cheap toasters the ones that may hold 4 slices of bread. Finally we end up with 3 toasters.


A faceted navigation is a navigation system which offers multiple facets of navigation to a single piece of information. This is done by using Faceted classification to group bits and pieces of information together. (definition Wikipedia)
Unlike a simple hierarchical scheme, faceted classification gives the users the ability to find items based on more than one dimension. For example, some users shopping for jewelry may be most interested in browsing by particular type of jewelry (earrings, necklaces), while others are more interested in browsing by a particular material (gold, silver). "Material" and "type" are examples of facets; earrings, necklaces, gold, silver are examples of facet values. (source: Web Design Practices | Faceted Classification)
See also the design pattern on faceted navigation.

Literature and links

Reading primer: A Primer on Faceted Navigation and Guided Navigation. (Four facets of 10 nodes each have the same discriminatory power as one taxonomy of 10,000 nodes.)

-- ArthurClemens - 02 Jul 2005



A Perl script to create a faceted classification: Faceted Classification - Simple Implementation with CGI Script in Perl


Faceted navigation with del.icio.us tags: http://johnvey.com/features/deliciousdirector/demo.html (does not work in Safari)

-- ArthurClemens - 06 Jul 2005

Article about hierarchies, facets and tags: http://wiki.osafoundation.org/bin/view/Journal/HierarchyVersusFacetsVersusTags

-- ArthurClemens - 03 Aug 2005

MediaWiki page on discussing extending MediaWiki with ontologies/semantic annotating/processing: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Semantic_MediaWiki

-- ArthurClemens - 02 Oct 2005

FacetedNavigation in perfection is called LiquidBrowsing (gaga).

-- MichaelDaum - 10 Mar 2006

FlamencoSearch has gone open source. Download from http://flamenco.berkeley.edu/download.html.

-- ArthurClemens - 12 Jul 2006

BrowseRDF (http://browserdf.org): faceted browser for arbitrary RDF data. Based on the Faceteer engine which provides an interface to construct automatically a faceted navigation interface for RDF data. Faceteer is developed in Ruby and is open-source (http://m3pe.org/bzr/)

-- RenaudDelbru - 05 Aug 2006

Hm, can't believe that it's more than a year since Renauds last post. Have you seen sites were faceted like navigation is done by TWiki? Then please post a link here.

-- FranzJosefGigler - 21 Feb 2008

One example is HomePageNavigation at Wind River.

-- PeterThoeny - 25 Feb 2008

Topic attachments
I Attachment History Action Size Date Who Comment
PNGpng TokyoArtBeats.png r1 manage 165.7 K 2005-07-02 - 23:35 ArthurClemens  
GIFgif uk.shopping.com1.gif r1 manage 85.8 K 2005-07-01 - 19:57 ArthurClemens  
GIFgif uk.shopping.com2.gif r1 manage 70.1 K 2005-07-01 - 20:17 ArthurClemens  
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Topic revision: r21 - 2008-02-25 - PeterThoeny
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